Monday, July 18, 2011

Connecting the dots

So as part of a crazy random happenstance last week, I found myself in a stranger's living room, having a conversation with another stranger, and of all things the things strangers usually make small talk on, well, we ended up talking about, yeah, Islam. And you know what, apparently everyone except me knows what a stronghold Islam is! I feel late to the party, and not fashionably so.

But anyway.

In the course of the conversation, the articulated gentleman made some remark in response to my comment about how Islam is all-inclusive: a sociological, religious, economic, and judicial ideology. What he said was, "Obviously, Christianity is the same way, except it's of the light."

And I didn't say anything at the time, partly because I was already the controversial one in the room, since I was wearing shorts, sporting black nail polish, and decked in a t-shirt with words across the front . . . but when he said that a part of me went "Wait, what?"

I don't know. I was never aware that Christianity was an all-encompassing system. Partly because I've grown up hearing that Jesus wasn't a white middle class Republican, and that His kingdom is in our hearts, not in our society. So, blame it on how I was raised.

But his comment's stuck like a Philip Glass song in my mind. Especially now that I'm at this libertarian camp, being taught how to think about social choice and institutions and markets and equality and Wal-Mart. I can't help but wonder how Jesus fits into it all. According to one of the lecturers, he doesn't.

Josiah asked me once how I could be a Christian and a libertarian at the same time. He argued that libertarian thinking exalts man has the highest authority and the arbiter of his own life, prima facie two ideas that are decidedly in conflict with living under Jesus's lordship. My response to him was muddled and undeveloped at the time, but basically what I told him is this: I love freedom, and it's the liberty He gave me that wooed me to Christ. We were created to be free! I wouldn't go as far to say that practicing libertarianism as a form of government is biblical, but, due to its basis in natural law I would definitely say that libertarianism supports many, many biblical principles. And there are few systems of government that understand the depravity of human nature like libertarianism does.

But then, I don't really know what to do with all that Old Testament stuff.

As a sidenote, I love when skeptics throw down about how crazy town some parts in the Old Testament are. Part of me wants to start gushing about covenants and symbolism and God's justice and holiness and righteousness, and the other part of me is like, "Well, yeah, when you put it like that it does sound weird." I don't want my coworkers to think I'm making light of my faith, and that it's something I practice in spite of the bits that "don't make sense", but I also wanto demonstrate that it's not about what they think it's about. How do you tell someone politely that they just don't get it at all? I have this problem literally every day at work. I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes and muttering just that, "You don't get it at all."

Not that I 100% get "it" either, but, you know what I mean.

So I can't help but wonder to what extent the political condition of our state, our nation, our world is actually even relevant to the plans God has. While I'm assured he's definitely sovereign over the decisions of rulers, and I'm confident we're supposed to care about governments and the decisions they make, I still can't help but wonder at the relationship between Jesus and governments. Politics are everything to some people, but I feel like politics are kind of irrelevant to His kingdom coming. Like they're just one small piece of the puzzle, not even a corner piece or anything, kind of just a random piece that you work around.

I don't know. It's easy for me to say, safe and well-fed in my ivory tower.

I want to live rightly. And I don't want my libertarian leavings to be a stumbling block in my pursuit of Jesus. I don't want to be romanced by economic models and philosophical definitions, and I don't want to devote myself to a cause that will distract me from the ultimate call on my heart. Which, actually, is the greatest thing about this seminar: prime opportunities to explain why I'm a libertarian. Jesus freed me.


Luke said...

"I didn't say anything at the time, partly because I was already the controversial one in the room, since I was wearing shorts, sporting black nail polish, and decked in a t-shirt with words across the front . . . "

Hayley, no one judged you because of your were dressed fine. And if anyone did then that's their problem.

Anonymous said...

I would like to respond to the false assumption that people are making about your views. Hopefully my input will help you feel better. People often misunderstand my beliefs as well. I would agree that politics can be filthy, but that does not mean that we as Christians should shun them. During our time on earth we need to inluence society for the better.
Conservative libertarianism is the love child of a traditional moralist and a freedom fighting paramour. If aliens were real it would be the ideology of humanoids. The 'good ole boys' of outer space would have their headquarters on Mars. The ultra left feminists would call Venus home. A politician who embraces this fusion is Congressman Ron Paul.
Libertarians champion the constitutional rights of the people. They also support economic independence. Ethics, morals, and values are seen as essential ideals for a healthy society. Libertarians who consider self-determination more important than righteousness, find themselves on the progressive side. Libertarians who focus more on being decent human beings than on exercising every freedom, find themselves on the conservative side.
Academics who confuse amorality with unadulterated freedom will advocate all kinds of debauchery. In reality, libertarian ideology can easily be harmonized with Christianity. The Founding Fathers of the USA understood that fact. It was not until later that the far left weakened libertarianism. I choose the conservative version, since it remains more pure.
For hundreds of years the ancient Hebrews enjoyed autonomy (with the exception of religious constraints). Shortly after beginning their first government, they realized they had made a mistake. The Israelites had been warned by God that if they went through with their rebellious plan to install a king, they would regret doing so. By rejecting the guidance of the Lord, the Jews took on the heavy yoke of exploitation, military service, and relentless taxation. The commandments of God were no longer the only laws that the Chosen Ones had to obey.
Conservative libertarianism is not in conflict with the Holy Bible. Christians are told to obey the authorities, yet the Lord set a limit on the extent of that submission. Civil disobedience, when practiced for the sake of a clear conscience, is applauded by God in the Scriptures. Jesus Christ went against the grain of man made Jewish traditions, since they conflicted with the Old Testament laws. Furthermore, He instructed His disciples to go throughout the world sharing the Good News with all who would listen (that included countries where evangelism was illegal).
Anyway, God bless you Hayley! Have a great week! You seem like an intelligent girl. I am glad that I can learn a little bit about your life. I am sorry if I wrote too much.

Mommy said...

Freedom, yes, I think this is the most appropriate name. So glad that Christ has set you free, there is nothing more important to a mother. <3